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Contact: Chris Cate
Communications Director
850.245.6522

Secretary Browning Announces the Opening of Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight

Smithsonian exhibition features African American contributions in aviation

Tallahassee, Florida –

Secretary of State Kurt Browning will be celebrating the opening of Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight, tonight, February 2, 2012, during an opening ceremony event at the Florida Department of State’s Museum of Florida History. Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight is a Smithsonian exhibition examining African American contributions in aviation from the past and present. The exhibition will be on display in the Museum of Florida History through April 22, 2012.

“We are honored to host this exhibition that will help educate our community about the history of African Americans and their contributions in the field of aviation,” said Secretary Browning. “I can’t think of a better time to honor the accomplishments of these remarkable men and women than during Black History Month.”

Two of the many figures recognized in Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight are Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to obtain her pilot’s license, and aviator William J. Powell who led an ambitious program to promote aviation in the African American community. Divided into six sections, “Black Wings” chronicles the evolution of aviation through the stories of African Americans who dreamed of flight, left their mark and helped pave the way for those who would follow.

Other aviators whose contributions are explored in the exhibit include the Tuskegee Airmen, the first military division of African American pilots who fought in World War II, and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to fly in space. The exhibition is based on the book Black Wings: Courageous Stories of African Americans in Aviation and Space History (HarperCollins, 2008) written by exhibition curator Von Hardesty of the National Air and Space Museum.

The Museum of Florida History has developed programming for the 3rd Thursdays in February and April in conjunction with the exhibit that will commemorate Black History Month and celebrate the contributions of African Americans to aviation history.  Additional programming established with the Tallahassee Film Society on April 21 will present a screening of the HBO film, Tuskegee Airmen at All Saints Cinema.

The Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight exhibition’s national tour is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The exhibition was made possible by the generous support of the MetLife Foundation.

About the Department of State’s Museum of Florida History

The Museum of Florida History is part of the Florida Department of State’s Division of Cultural Affairs, and is located in the R. A. Gray Building at 500 South Bronough Street, Tallahassee, Florida.  The site is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday and holidays, 12:00 noon to 4:30 p.m. Admission and parking are free.  For more information, contact 850.245.6400 or go online to www.museumoffloridahistory.com.